23 September 2014
The Product of Literacy Knowledge is a tool that every human needs to survive, for without it we would not be able to function properly. With the power of knowledge the only limit is that which you put yourself because with the right resources you can uncover whatever is hidden. However, with that power comes a hunger for more and even pain. This knowledge and power all starts with literacy, which is the first step since you must know what the word knowledge is to begin to understand it. In the autobiographies of Frederick Douglas and Malcolm X both struggled to achieve literacy, and in doing so discovered knowledge, pain, and power. Knowledge is comprehension, grasp, and mastery gained through experience and education. You must learn how to read and write, to be literate, to begin seeking knowledge and how intoxicating it can be. Douglas at a young age was punished for trying to further his knowledge, but it was too late for “mistress in teaching [him] the alphabet, had given [him] the inch”(Douglass 119), and that was all he needed to further his knowledge. He had to master literacy and in doing so “was compelled to resort to various stratagems”(Douglass 118), such as making friends with white kids and “as many as [he] could, converted into teachers”(Douglass 119). At a very young age he had grasped that to become literate he must learn from other who are literate. However, for Malcolm X it was different; he was a grown man yet was not educated, but ironically he became literate during his prison sentence. The best thing for him was to “get hold of a dictionary-to study, to learn some new words”(Malcolm X 274). Eventually he and other inmates started to debate over all types of topics. He began to find euphoria “when this new world opened to [him], of being able to read and understand”(Malcolm X 276). With acquiring literacy Douglas and X found joy in further expanding their knowledge. It is true that ignorance is bliss for sometimes the truth is very painful. For Douglas began to understand his predicament and “the thought of being a slave for life”(Douglass 121) was starting to cause much agony on the boy. In these moments he “envied [his] fellow-slaves for their stupidity”(Douglass 121). Even at a young age he “found himself regretting his existence”(Douglass 121); these thoughts would have lead him to his end by his own hands, but pain is yet another tool of knowledge which he used to be the man he is known for. When Malcom X began to seriously read he found many books of the great history of black civilizations, but he then discovered the pain and sorrow caused by the “sin and the blood on the white man’s hand”(Malcolm X 278). As he read the history of many nations he realized “how the whole world’s white men had indeed acted like devils, pillaging and raping and bleeding and draining the whole world’s non-white people”(Malcolm X 278). He noticed that even many nations’ downfall was caused by the usurpation of the white man. Angered by this he took up philosophy to begin to understand himself and others; this agonizing pain led to the leader that he was known for in the civil rights movement.
Not much can be accomplished without power, and being intelligent is one of the greatest powers of all. When you talk and people stop to listen to you because they like what you say then you hold power or influence over them. Frederick Douglas despite